The 2016 Global Forum – an invite-only event in its 25th year – brought together government leaders, academics, world-class experts, distinguished entrepreneurs from Italy, Finland, France, Greece, Canada, UK, Japan, Taiwan, US, and other countries. This global meeting of the minds displayed how digitization can create economic growth and improve citizen service delivery.
The event held in Eindhoven, Netherlands featured keynote speeches, presentations from global leaders, including: Anne Carblanc, Head of Digital Economy Policy Division at the OECD; Hiroyuki Hishinuma, Director of Global ICT Strategy Bureau in Japan; Per Blixt, Adviser to the European Commission; and Mark Bressers, Director of Enterprise and Innovation Regulatory Reform for the Netherlands. These talks were designed to highlight challenges to citizen-service innovation and how digitization can positively affect citizen service delivery.
In her welcome address, the Vice-Mayor of Eindhoven Mary-Ann Schreurs said: "Innovation is about knowledge, marketing, and design." The City of Eindhoven has future plans to launch an open data site, a dashboard of sorts that showcases its rich collection of geographic data. Eventually, the open data site will enable citizens to add data, check service provider quality in real-time, and— City officials hope data entrepreneurs, developers, and innovators will use this data to build apps that improve the quality of life for its citizens. This is one example of the many innovative efforts that were showcased.
For example, healthcare patients can access their electronic health records from home in Sweden. The COO of Datamation talked about how his organization is using mobile and tech to improve women's health conditions in India. Finland implemented "Living Labs" — in the future, they will become “Networked Hubs — that foster cross-sectoral collaboration and connect people and companies to resources. A collaboration between Taiwan and France led to the creation of 100s of apps. The International Corporation held a series of ‘Information Day' to share experience and best practices around the world.
The Director of ICT for Japan Hiroyuki Hishinuma spoke about how the Internet of Things (IoT) is helping aging populations to age-in-place, and, surprisingly, farmers to manage their livestock. Instead of IoT, we will have the Internet of Everything (IoE) because 37 billion new things will be connected by 2020.
What is more, IBM's Global Government General Manager Dr. Julia Glidden keynote highlighted a partnership with Sesame Street that will leverage cognitive to enable the personalization, customization of educational content for kids to better learn. Glidden also said: "We have so much data; we don't know what to do with it; we're in a data tsunami. Watson turns data into insights. Watson can help predict and prevent which child – and veterans – will commit suicide." Beyond using technology and crowdsourcing methods to improve the government team’s culture, IBM is putting on a hackathon to crowdsource innovations to curb the Zika virus. Dr. Glidden said, "Open Innovation – put it out there and the whole becomes better than the sum of the parts." These were some of the most powerful examples of new tech capabilities presented at the 2016 Global Forum.
The breakout sessions were just as powerful as the keynotes. Global leaders on the digital health panel spoke about mHealth, e-Patients, precision and connected health, wearable computing, and privacy & access to health and wellness data. A system architect from the Netherlands told us how to prevent chronic disease using activity trackers. For example, light wearables can be used to track sleep apnea, instead of wearing clunky devices to sleep. What is more, Sweden developed Blue App to ask structured questions and follow up questions via digital system to leverage digital to improve mental health diagnoses and treatments. IXICO is developing a digital health platform for patient-generated data for brain diseases in the UK. Senegal is using SMS to inform diabetic patients during Ramadan. JAMK in Finland is co-creating mobile health apps with social service providers. Academics and government officials turned intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs helped to develop the aforementioned healthcare innovations.
Global Forum delegates were reminded of the cybersecurity risks in the digital and sharing economies. For example, digital health gurus told digital health panel participants to demand that suppliers of soft-reliant IoT systems are responsible for building safety and security into their processes, for then healthcare providers buying can send a strong market signal for cybersecurity in network-connectable devices.
The CEO of SecureNinja Shakeel Tufail also highlighted in his presentation: "90% of reported cybersecurity incidents occur due to the exploration of software defects," but there's both human and machine weakness when it comes to cybersecurity. This is why organizations must have an accident response test for cybersecurity. Attaché to the Director General of France David Kibler said, "Cybersecurity is changing the world of the diplomat," and, most importantly, the privacy of the citizen's personal information.
The World Bank published Digital Dividends, which is the first major headline report on how digital affects economies and people. "To create more digital change, we need the tech, but also innovative business models," said Minister of Information Society and Administration for Macedonia Marta Arsovska-Tomovska. “We must be digital by nature; digital by design; digital together; and digital, but still human."
Open innovation requires building trusting relationships, especially since the European Union is promoting a single digital market. Suvi Linden, former Finland Minister, said: "Network technology evolution continues to expand human possibilities." To advance digitization, Netherlands Director Mark Bressers said, "We need smart business, smart government, smart infrastructure, and smart people." I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Bressers, and further believe his statements capture the essence of the 2016 Global Forum.